Indian Ridge Habitat Restoration

December 30, 2019

Mount Auburn Cemetery has launched a major landscape restoration project around Indian Ridge Path designed to add horticultural depth and a critical new habitat to the area, offering more resources to resident and migratory birds as part of our larger efforts to enhance the landscape as an urban wildlife refuge. Located near the main entrance, Indian Ridge is one of our most popular areas to walk, featuring the burial site of one of our most notable residents, Henry Wadsworth Longfellow, as well as offering a high vantage point framing some of Mount Auburn’s most iconic views. Indian Ridge is also already a prime birdwatching spot during the spring migration each year, as a destination for neotropical warblers who stop at Mount Auburn to feed before heading north to Canada. Additionally, the path features some of Mount Auburn’s oldest oak trees, which date to the founding of the Cemetery.

Today, however, the landscape along the path lacks any unified design scheme or horticultural sustainability, and is characterized by a few ornamental trees, patchy grass sections, invasive shrubs, and the abovementioned oaks. Given the already high level of migratory bird activity, we have made it a priority to create a landscape design that adds visual appeal as well as plant diversity to the area.

The first step of the project (late fall 2019 through winter 2020) is the removal of selected invasive plants including Norway Maple trees, which have prevented other native, habitat-friendly vegetation from establishing over the years. After the 2020 spring migration concludes, replanting work will begin along the path, to install a new landscape designed by Mount Auburn’s Horticultural Curator Dennis Collins and horticultural consultant Patrick Cullina, with the help of landscape architect Craig Halvorson. Together, they have crafted a design that will add visual appeal and plant diversity through amplifying successful elements of existing landscape. A major highlight will be feature a dramatic progression of white-flowered trees including Silverbell, Dogwood, and Yellowwood, complemented by masses of lower vegetation which have been selected to offer habitat benefits to birds and other wildlife.

More details will be available as the project progresses, and we look forward to welcoming our visitors into this beautiful new landscape once it is complete!

Please help us make our vision for Indian Ridge a reality! The Friends of Mount Auburn is raising $305,000 to cover the costs of landscape design, replanting the area with more than 15,000 new plants, and caring for these plants in the critical early years to ensure that the landscape is established. We are halfway to our goal as of January 2020, and need your support to complete the project!

To make a donation, please contact: Director of Institutional Advancement Jenny Gilbert at 617-607-1970 or, or visit and choose “Indian Ridge Habitat Restoration.”

Mount Auburn staff and visitors smile for a photo on Indian Ridge Path

About the Author: Anna Moir

Grants & Communications Manager View all posts by Anna Moir →


    • Jessica Bussmann says:

      Hi Elsa, I have been assured that no Magnolias will be taken out as part of this project. That Saucer Magnolia is one of my favorites too. Stay tuned for more information about the this restoration project.

  1. Shela says:

    As a frequent walker on beautiful Indian Ridge, I do hope that it’s “wild” aspect will be preserved in this restoration.
    I was dismayed a couple of years ago by the removal of old forsythia bushes which were replaced by rather suburban-looking smaller shrubs and plants. Please maintain Mt A’s feeling of being in a special, wilder place.

  2. Amy Meltzer says:

    Very excited to hear about the plan to expand wildlife friendly habitat! Mt Auburn is an ideal place to help prevent the risk we face of species extinction, while enhancing the cemetery’s beauty and peacefulness. It is a joy to walk there and appreciate the beauty of nature.

    • Jessica Bussmann says:

      Hi Susan,
      Regina Harrison, Executive Assistant & Sales Coordinator says:

      The Living Urn is a lovely concept. Part of what makes Mount Auburn a beautiful place is the dedicated curation and care provided by our horticulture staff. Every perennial plant or tree’s location is carefully chosen for it as part of an area’s overall design. We also do not plant trees directly over graves, since the graves may be disturbed by future horticultural activity. For these reasons, we do not accept Living Urns. However, we do offer memorial tree plaques on existing trees or where appropriate newly planted trees adjacent to natural burial or cremation graves, so you can still visit a tree here in memory of a loved one.

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